The Willard HomesteadThe Homestead, the Emporium and simple living on our funny farm.

  • DIY Elderberry Syrup

    I’ve mentioned a few times recently on the Homestead Emporium Facebook page that
    we’ve been making, and taking, Elderberry Syrup and many have asked
    how to make it, so I thought I’d share again on the blog, just how simple
    it is!

  • Tea & your health.


    Like many others, I enjoy learning about healthy options. One of my latest learning adventures has brought me to herbs & berries etc. that I never thought of before. First, I learned about Elderberries, and Elderberry Syrup. I had bought elderberry lozenges when I found them on sale and put them to the test over Christmas. Everyone around me had gotten the flu, but I didn’t. I can’t say for certain it was the lozenges, but I figured it was worth the effort to learn more.
    Through a friend, Delia of Delia’s Pantry, I learned how to make my own elderberry syrup and we now take it often! It’s so easy! I’ll share how on a blog post again very soon. 20130309-130730.jpg Then Delia brought in Stinging Nettle Leaf, and I wondered why? I learned one of its benefits is helping pms. No need to research any further, I was sold and asked Delia to add it to my next order! I also liked what I read about dandelion, and decided to order a little to try also. I’m not one to remember taking a lot of different things, but I’ve found one way to easily
    take all these new things I love. Every morning I make myself a pot of tea! 20130309-130438.jpg I made up a personal blend. I start with my favourite loose leaf tea, cranberry fresh from Then I add in some stinging nettle leaf, some dried dandelion root, and dried elderberries. 20130309-131927.jpg My teapot is one of my favorite thrift store scores! I had been looking for a heavy duty glass teapot for years! I steep my tea for quite some time, then add in honey & elderberry syrup, stir well and allow it to cool. Once cooled, I pour it into a very large drink bottle and sip cool healthy tea all day! 20130309-132717.jpg I have a VERY hard time getting enough liquids into me, I don’t get thirsty for water, I don’t feel store bought juice is healthy, and I’m too busy to get in much hot tea, so this method works perfectly for me! 20130309-132914.jpg How about you? What are some Ways you’ve learned to
    add healthy herbs etc. into your life?

    Homestead Emporium now sells
    our own special blend of tea in our shop! You can find it in sample
    size, and larger, here:

  • Saskatchewan, land of the living skies.

    Saskatchewan, land of the living skies.

  • A young girls dreams come true.

    However, whenever that little bit of jealousy tries to creep up within ME when I see what OTHERS have, that we don’t have, I remind myself of that exact thing. We all travel our paths, and we all have hurdles and hills, and when each of us gets to where we are going, we can look back and see what we’ve been through.

    No one else can look back on our path and see it with the same clarity that we see it ourselves.

  • Oh deer.

    On our way home from Good Spirit Lake last month, we came upon this lovely little family of deer.

  • Another season over.

    The seasons are changing, quickly.

  • A mother’s plan.

    A while back I came across a post in my facebook feed about a family of four girls who had their photo taken together every year, for years, in the same order. The photos began from the time the four were ages 15-25, and went on for the following 36 years. I thought this was pretty impressive and it got me thinking about my own children, and photography.

    Like all parents, we started with our first child snapping one photo after another. We have quite literally thousands of photos of Alesia, our eldest. When Joshua came along, life was a little busier with two but we still managed to get a fair amount of photos. Probably a more ‘normal’ amount of photos.

  • Just 67 days until Christmas!


    It’s snowing!

    We really aren’t ready quite yet. The barn stalls are not done for the horses, and the garden has yet to be tilled… but it looks SOOoo pretty!!

    And we may not be ready yet but Julia made sure that Jasper is.


    Let it snow…let it snow…let it snow…

  • Progress continues, in work and our new life as a family of eight… Tuesday.

    It is beginning to truly feel like autumn here on the prairies now. There is no longer any way to deny it. A few short weeks ago our kids were swimming in the lake and sun bathing, and now it’s just about time for mittens and hats!


    We live in deep farm country. Above is the road to our home. We are the only home on this entire stretch of grid road as far as the eyes can see, which is quite far on the prairies! All the farm land surrounding us was harvested this past week and it seems the season is truly winding down. Winter around here for most is much more ‘slow’ then spring and fall. In the spring and fall it’s all about, “Hurry up, and wait”. You’ve got to hurry up and get in the crops quick enough in the spring … then wait. In the autumun you have to hurry up and get the crops out … then wait … for spring again.

    For us, everything has been hurry, hurry, hurry, since we got here. Hurry and get the garden in. Hurry and get the barn ready. Hurry and pick up our new son in BC. Hurry and help him to settle into our life, and us settle into having him in our lives, so we can hurry up and be a ‘real’ family. Hurry up and wait, it seems, is also the theme of this whole adoption process! Hurry up and get paper work done. Then wait. Hurry up and get more paperwork done. Then wait again. Hurry up and get him home. Then wait for more paperwork to be done. lol Hurry up and wait.


    We’re learning lots of patience through it all, on the farm, in the adoption process, and even through the addition of a new family member. It’s been a very big life change. Bigger then adding any of our other children, even the twins. It’s been a lot like the fence above. That fence looks alright, but once the horses were in the paddock, they quickly found weak spots and began to break out where ever they could. The fence ‘looked’ fine, but it wasn’t fine. It needed rebuilding. For the time being, we had ‘hodge podged’ some fixes, well enough to get by until we could spend the time needed to fix the fence properly. Some parts of the fence were usable and left as is, other parts had to go and be rebuilt completely, other parts just had to be fixed. We’ve been rebuilding, not just on the property, but within our family too. As a foster child, life can be a lot like that fence. Some parts will be ‘hodge podged’ the best they can be by people in your life that won’t be there long term. Once a child has a forever home, the real work can begin and life can be ‘rebuilt’, in a way that will remain solid and sound forever.

    Adding a teen into the mix is a lot different then adding a newborn baby (or even two, twins) into your family. With a new baby, you train them up as you go along, living life together, learning together as they grow. For an older adoptive child, it’s like they are put on a crash course to learn everything they missed out on while life was unstable. Life becomes about survival, not a slow growing up process of learning one day at a time, in a stable, loving enviroment. Because some of the key people in your life are not invested in the long term future, a lot of life for a foster child can be spent getting through one day to the next, for the child and even for the foster parents.  Important parts of life, and learning, are missed out on, not due to anyone’s ‘fault’, just due to the unfortunate circumstances.

    It’s been over 3 months now, and there’s been bumps along the way, hardships for each family member, but we’re getting there. It’s been a huge change not just for Pieter, or us as parents, but for our other children as well. The peaceful, quiet, routine life we once knew was changed pretty much in an instant as we all try to fit ourselves into a new life as a family of eight. My husband said it best. When we decided to adopt, he figured we’d have a period of time of adjusting to our new child fitting into our family. However, the biggest change & surprise has been that our entire family dynamic and way of life has really had to change completely, to fit our new son & brother in. We’re having to figure out a new dynamic, a new routine, new ways of living, a whole new scope that fits everyone.

    It’s hard to explain, but I’m sure anyone who has adopted probably understands completely. One small example, would be our eldest son. He’s been accustomed to being the only boy in the family for close to 20 years. He’s always had his own space, has always been very independent, has a myriad of hobbies and tools etc. to use for those hobbies. He’s also quite quiet, but does enjoy good conversation when he’s got a minute to spare between one of his three jobs. He has been this way since he was old enough to walk. Always working, always learning, always busy with his hands, and always quiet unless he’s got a moment to take a break and have good conversation.

    Our new son, because he’s moved around a bit from home to home, and because of the ‘survival’ mode of living in foster care, is quite the opposite. He does not really have any hobbies, or know how to entertain himself (but is learning some new hobbies quickly!) He does not really know how to be independent and tends to crowd and be a little ‘in your face’ and very much, in your space. He also has not mastered the art of conversation, and tends to ramble a whole lot about a whole lot of nothing. Peace ceased to exist in our home the day he arrived. He’s uncomfortable with quiet. We are all very comfortable with it, and greatly enjoy it. lol That’s probably been one of the biggest changes.

    When Pieter moved into Joshua’s room, he basically took it over completely. Boxes and boxes everywhere. Lego, everywhere. Joshua’s room did not go from looking like Joshua’s room, to Pieter and Joshua’s room. It went from looking like Joshua’s room, to looking like Pieter’s room, with Joshua staying over. I’m quite sure Joshua felt like he would have to help Pieter fit into his room, but instead Joshua has had to figure out how to fit BACK into his own room.

    *Don’t take my sharing this the wrong way, or as anything against my new son. I don’t mean it as anything negative. I’m sharing the realities of the differences between the two boys.

    Thankfully, after the initial shock of a total life change has worn off, Joshua got busy. He built shelves in his room for all of Pieter’s lego creations. He reorganized and reconstructed their big closet for all of Pieter’s boxes, and the bedroom finally looks like Joshua AND Pieter’s room. Also, Joshua had Pieter HELP him to build all this, so it FEELS like “their” room too. They created their space, together.

    The changes in Joshua’s life, and how he tackled it to solve the issues that arose, are a very good example of how it is for the entire family. As a family, we are learning how to become a smooth running, once again peaceful, family of eight now. It’s a work in progress, but we do see progress, it’s not easy, but it’s promising.


    Back on the farm… This was my view for most of Tuesday .Pieter and Julia helped my husband put in the whole new fence line for the horses.

    My husband never ceases to amaze me. He personally could care less for horses but he spends SO much of his time and energy working, to make life possible for the rest of us to have our horses!


    There’s an aspect of my husbands personality that can tend to drive me a little crazy at times. He’s a perfectionist. Sometimes I want to take over a job he’s doing and do it myself because he’s so darn picky that I often feel like it takes three times as long as need be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty darn picky person myself when it comes to my own work, but when it comes to some things like building sheep pens, or finishing off the cold cellar, or building a door for an animal pen, a shed, etc. my husband will always go the extra mile and do it ten times better then I might feel is needed…

    But, I have to admit that as I look down the fence line as he’s pounding those posts, and its so straight that it you look a certain way, you only see the very first post… I realize the very thing that can drive me crazy is the very thing I also appreciate greatly about him.

    Once again, he went the extra mile for us. Not only did we pound in posts for a larger paddock, we worked into the dark that evening to pound posts for a 60X120 RIDING RING!!

    To say Julia is excited, is an understatement. I ‘might’ just be a little excited myself! What girl doesn’t dream of having her own horse and riding ring?!? I sure did, and I may not be so little anymore, but I sure hope to make use of that ring for many years to come. When all was done, and we were driving back to the house, Julia said, “Thank you both very, Very, VERY much for the riding ring!!”

    We are very blessed, with six very great kids.

    And tomorrow (Wednesday) Graydon goes back to work. It’s a good thing too, he needs the rest! lol The house is back to it’s regular routine of school, play, household things, farm chores, and business. I think we could all use a bit of rest too. 🙂